Off to a 2-1 start in Atlantic 10 play, the Dayton Flyers continue to ride a roller coaster of highs and lows this season. From losing three straight home games to quad three/four teams, to beating Miami, Belmont, and top-five Kansas in Orlando, Dayton’s resume is unlike any I have seen before. If the Flyers have taught us one thing this year, it’s that they’re equally capable of beating anyone in the country, as they are of losing to anyone in the country. While I’ve remained largely critical of Dayton’s play throughout the course of this year, I still see undeniable potential in this group. In fact, I’m yet to see anyone question the talent on this UD roster. Rather, the questions circulate around the Flyers’ inconsistent play and lack of identity at times. Now, halfway through the season, common characteristics between Dayton’s wins and Dayton’s losses have emerged. Despite being out of the running for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, the Flyers still have a lot to play for in terms of the A-10 regular season and tournament titles. Without further ado, here’s my take on how Dayton can find consistency in its play and take home an A-10 title this year.
1. Limiting Turnovers
By this time it’s no secret that taking care of the basketball has been one of Dayton’s primary struggles this year. Averaging 14.7 turnovers per game, the Flyers currently rank No. 296 out of 358 Division 1 college basketball teams in that category. For comparison, Wisconsin leads the nation in minimizing turnovers, averaging just 8.2 per game, while Prairie View checks in dead last with 18.1 per game. Needless to say, it becomes very difficult to win basketball games when nearly 25% of your possessions end via turnover, which has been the case for Dayton much of this year. In addition to not getting a shot at the hoop, a high turnover rate also provides opponents with outstanding transition basket opportunities, making turnovers a double-edged sword. Furthermore, in each of Dayton’s six losses this season, the Flyers have matched or exceeded the opposing team’s total turnovers. While it’s easier said than done, Dayton must place a major emphasis on discipline and taking care of the basketball. Turnovers can not continue to plague the offense if the Flyers want to take the next step in their development as a team.
2. Transition Offense
In addition to limiting turnovers, Dayton needs to do a better job getting out in transition. As we learned from Obi Toppin, some of the easiest scoring opportunities come from running the floor and beating the opposing defense down the court immediately following a missed shot. While this team does not have an Obi Toppin, they do have the ideal makeup of a run-and-gun squad. With lengthy wings, athletic bigs, and a point guard who loves to push the ball up the court, Dayton should look to capitalize on transition buckets every time the opportunity presents itself. Highly touted freshman forward DaRon Holmes II has already shown flashes of his ability to run the floor and finish in transition. Given the talent and physical characteristics of this team, I think the Flyers could find a valuable identity in exploiting transition offense opportunities. Going forward, I hope to see Dayton continue emphasizing and evolving the pace at which it plays.
In my opinion, Dayton has the talent to win an A-10 title this year. Led by true freshmen Malachi Smith and shot blocking nightmare Holmes II, the Flyers’ defense has proved itself as a strength. By limiting turnovers on offense and getting out in transition more frequently, I believe Dayton will find both consistency and identity. Riding a two-game win streak into a matchup at Duquesne on Saturday, the Flyers aim to continue building momentum before returning home for what promises be a highly anticipated matchup against the St. Bonaventure Bonnies. A lot of basketball remains to be played in 2022 and it will be exciting to see how things shake out. Will Dayton find consistency and solidify its identity this year? Or will the Flyers continue riding the roller coaster of ups and downs? Only time will tell.